Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.

-jamie

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Looking to be honored?

“Exalt her [wisdom], and she will promote you; she will bring you honor, when you embrace her.  She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you.”. Pr. 4:8-9

In a time when it seems that many are seeking honor, promotions, and ‘crowns’, this is an apt verse.

It’s not our fancy clothes, top-of-the-line vehicles, great dance moves, super tolerance of all things socially acceptable, newest gadgets, or anything else you can think of that will bring true honor.  Those things may bring momentary acceptance here on earth, but it will pass.

What lasts is the honor and promotion that are brought to us by wisdom.  When we embrace wisdom, she embraces us back.  Not only that, but she places on our heads an ornament of grace, and delivers to us a crown of glory.

Not only will she give us honor and promotion here on earth, but her gifts are eternal.  A crown of glory is ours.  For eternity.

Sometimes, for that momentary feeling of acceptance, the urge to push her to the side will come.  We must remember that we are striving for an eternal, lasting crown, not that momentary, fake, plastic crown.

Embrace her,

jamie

On loving instruction…

Pr. 12:1:  “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

Stupid is considered a ‘bad word’ in our house, but here it is, right in my Bible.  I’m just typing what it says.

It seems I’ve been reading the words of instruction in Proverbs so intently that I have caused damage to my Bible.  This page, and a chunk of others have come loose from the binding of my Bible.  When I was reading these words this morning, I was holding just the pages in my hand.

Although, it was shocking when they first came out, I take it as a sign that I have not hated correction.  I have been reading these instructions enough to have worn the pages right out of the book.  That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Now, let me admit that I don’t really always love correction.  I absolutely love to learn, but correction can sting.  I guess, like these pages, it pulls something out of me that maybe I’m a bit unwilling to give up.  Or maybe it’s just pride.

I don’t want to be considered stupid.  (Gasp!  I typed it again.)  I want to learn more and to grow more mature.  I want God to teach me what is best and good for my life.  I want to pull as much instruction out of His Word as I can.  Even if I am literally pulling out the pages from use.

God gives us instruction for our good.  He also gives it so that we can pass it on to others.  We owe it to those around us who aren’t “in the know” to pull out as much as we can, so that we can pass it along to them.  God has enough for us all!

Being instructed,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 23

Lord, the theme in my scripture reading this morning is that regarding Your Word is wise and will lead to eternal rewards.  You warn us not to envy sinners, but to be zealous for the fear of You, reminding us that there is surely a hereafter, and that our hope will not be cut off.

You remind us not to overwork to be rich, but to set our eyes on eternity.  You remind us to correct and discipline our children so that they may be delivered from hell.

In Pr. 23:23, we are told, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”  We are reminded throughout this chapter about wisdom.  We are encouraged to remember that while temptations may look good for the moment, they lead to bad results.  Help me to remember these verses when I am tempted to focus on earthly pleasures more than eternal rewards, Lord.

Like the writer of Ps. 119:125, I say, “I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.”  I do not want to regard Your Word as void, Lord, but to love Your commandments more than find gold, or any other earthly treasure.

Help me to hate every false way, but to focus on Your precepts, and Your promise of eternity.  Lord, You loved me so much that You allowed Your only Son to be killed so that I could live with You in eternity.  Do not let me trample on that gift just to ‘feel good’ here on earth.  I want to be with You forever.

Thank You, God, for the gift of salvation.  Thank You for the promise of an eternal reward.  Thank You for Your love that is sacrificial.  Please help me love the same way.  Thank You for Your Word, which gives me wisdom.  Please help me to live a life according to Your Word, that I may please my Father in Heaven.

I pray and ask these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Month of Prayer, Day 20

Lord, I do love knowing Your Word.  I love that throughout the day, Your Word is in my mind and in my mouth.  I love how Your Word guides my steps and equips me.

Knowing that You are with me gives me strength.  Knowing Your law gives me wisdom.  Knowing that I am Yours gives me confidence.  Lord, where would I be without Your Word?  I know where I have ended up during times before when I chose to ignore Your Word and Your Holy Spirit.  Those were times of loneliness and sin that left me with much regret.

In contrast, Lord, when I look back over the times in my life when I allowed You to truly be Lord of my life, I have no regrets.  I never regret serving You.  I never regret choosing to following Your Word, or the leading of Your Holy Spirit.  I never regret trusting You, Lord.  Thank You for the peace that comes from serving You.

Lord, surrendering to You means that I truly have freedom!  There is freedom that comes from the peace of submitting to my Savior.  In light of that, Lord, Your words truly are sweet to my taste.  Your Word and Your Spirit are my treasures.  Your faithfulness is the solid foundation that keeps me upright.

Sin no longer looks good when I know that it’s fruit is loneliness, bitterness, sadness, and regret.  When I know that sin takes me away from You, Lord, I no longer want it.  I want to be safe in the arms of my Father.  I want to be in the shadow of Your wings; the apple of Your eye.

Lord, Pr. 20:7 says, “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”  Lord, I want my children to be blessed because I chose to walk with You.  I want my children to find the same trust and security in You that I have found.

I do not want them to have to find out the hard way, as I did, so I try to tell them of Your greatness and Your faithfulness when I can.  Help me to keep Your Word on my lips, encouraging them and telling them of Your greatness.  Oh, that their ears will be open to hear.

Let me walk in integrity, Lord, and be a living example of Your love and Your might for my children.  Let their eyes be open to see.  As You guide my steps, guide theirs ever closer to You, as well.  I long that my children will know and trust and serve You.  I long for them to live in the freedom that comes from serving You.  I defy the bonds of sin that would threaten to ensnare them, in Jesus’ name.

As I meditate on Your Word today, Lord, let it drip from my tongue and taste sweeter than honey to my children, Father.  Let them long for more.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

Month of Prayer, Day 15

Lord, You made and fashioned my children with beautiful intentionality.  Help them to truly KNOW this and to believe it.  Give them understanding, that they may learn Your commandments.  Help them to hope in Your Word!

Give them soft answers and take harshness away.  Let wisdom flow from their tongues and not foolishness.  Give them prudence to accept needed correction, and help them not to be lazy.  Do not allow them to disdain instruction, but to wisely heed rebukes with understanding, that they may fear You and receive Your instructions.

I thank You that our house is indeed filled with much treasure.  You are our treasure.  Help my children to grow in their understanding of this.  Lord, You fill us with love, joy, cheer, hope, and merry hearts.  Thank You.

Lord, give my children enough wisdom to choose the life that winds upward, that they may turn away from hell below.  Help their thoughts and their words to be pure and pleasant, so that they may honor You and their prayers will be Your delight.

I thank You for the privilege to raise these children You have created.  As I lean upon Your Holy Spirit, fill me with the wisdom to guide them the way that is best for them and for their purpose.   Help me to point them to You, so that You can lead them into eternity.

I love you, my Lord and my God.  I praise Your name for all things.  You are an amazing God!

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Month of Prayer, Day 9

Lord, let Your mercies come to me.  Let Your Word be alive in me.  Let my life show that You and Your Word are true.  Let those around me see that trusting in Your Word is wise.

Lord, do not allow me to be clamorous, simple, or deceitful.  Let Your Word be what my mouth brings forth, and not folly.  My hope is in You, Lord.  Let my life prove that is so.  Let my actions, my words, my reactions, and my exclamations all prove that my hope is indeed in You.

Increase my faith.  Oh, God, I know when I ask You to increase my faith that a situation will likely arise where I will have to make the choice of whether or not to place my faith solely in You.  I have been through this before, and I’m sorry to say that it’s not always easy, but Lord, I trust You.

You have never forsaken me.  I trust that Your plans for my life and my family are good.  I trust that Your wisdom will be with me, helping me to forsake foolishness.  Your Word of truth will not utterly leave my mouth.  Your Holy Spirit will bring to my remembrance the truths I know of You.  I believe Your Word which tells me that You go before me and behind me, guiding me along the way.

Lord, help me go in the way of understanding all the days of my life.  Help my children to receive my teachings that bring them closer and closer to You.  Help my life to be a living testimony of Your goodness and Your faithfulness.  Empower me, through Your Holy Spirit, to be a light.

I love You, Lord.  I thank You for Your Word, and for Your faithfulness.  I thank You for Your mercies and for salvation.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.